The breeze lifts Simi from sleep. It plays through her room, teasing her mosquito net. She lies still and watches it billow around her, as her half-awake mind drifts like a ship without moorings, laughter and shouts splashing against its sides.
Slowly she starts to listen a little harder, and then suddenly, she draws the threads together with a snap.
She sits up and swings her feet to the floor, lifting the mosquito net over her head with one hand, while picking up her mobile with the other. The time is 9.30. She shrieks. Softly.
In minutes she is showered, and changed, and the curtains are open. Sunlight soaks across the room, so bright it feels like the middle of the day, and so far off the six o’clock start she’d planned that she feels completely disoriented. She steps outside, locks the door, slips the key into the blue-green of her kaftan, and then takes the short flight of steps up to the swimming-pool.
“Hi Simi, did you sleep well?” Eyes still adjusting to the light, Simi sees Jen, half-wrapped in a towel, standing by the edge of the pool.
“Too well. I’ve only just woken up, and I was supposed to go on that birdwalk.”
“Good morning,” calls Hansie. He is still in the pool, and raises a hand in greeting.
“Hello,” Simi replies.
“Don’t worry about the birdwalk. Nobody will mind about that,” says Jen. “We haven’t eaten yet either, so if you don’t mind waiting a few seconds, we’ll come and show you where everything is.” She reaches for another towel, then sweeps her hair to one side to dry it more easily.
“Are the birdwalkers all back?” Simi asks.
“Not all of them. And they are still serving breakfast. I had a quick look, before coming out here to check Hansie wouldn’t drown.”
Hansie laughs, and pulls himself out of the pool, water splashing off him like rivers from a mountain.
“Come. Let’s go and get something to eat. I’m starving.”
“Okay.” Jen puts the towel down, and pulls a t-shirt over her head, her long hair damp across its shoulders.
Simi follows them up on to the verandah, where she sees Tonderai clearing plates. He comes towards them, his tray loaded.
“Good morning,” he says. “I hope you’ve slept well.”
“Good morning,” Simi replies. “Very well.”
“Hi Tonderai. Hope there’s still some breakfast hey,” says Hansie.
“For sure. Plenty, plenty in the dining-room. Some walkers still coming. You must serve yourselves.”
“Thanks,” says Jen. “We’ll go and grab something, and then sit in the sun.”
Food collected, they find a table out beyond the bar, with a view of the golf course below. Along its river-edge, under the trees, they see a few stragglers from the walk making their way towards the lodge.
“They’ll be hot,” said Jen. “Glad I went for a swim instead. But we’d better enjoy the heat. Usually means it’s about to change when it goes sticky like this.”
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023